Using Microbes to Produce Biofuels

U.S. researchers have successfully used certain microbes to produce biofuels, opening a door to developing cheaper “green” energy.

The discovery was made by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles. The findings were published on Sunday’s issue of the journal “Nature Biotechnology.”

The work concentrated on tricking microbes into eating protein and using the resulting energy to generate specific proteins that can be refined into fuel, the researchers explained.

This is different from the current biofuel production which is based on plants or microbes that generate fats, oils or carbohydrates that can be refined into biofuel, said Dr. James C. Liao, who took part in the study.

“This research is the first attempt to utilize protein as a carbon source for energy production and biorefining,” Liao said. “Complex cellular regulation in nitrogen metabolization had to be rewired.”

The researchers said they are now working to take ammonia out of individual cells, allowing the cells to keep their nitrogen.

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